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05-21-2020 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

Winter doldrums

There is an area off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean called “The Doldrums”. This is an area where there are often slight winds or no winds. Back in the whaling days if a ship got caught there they were becalmed. They either had to wait it out, or put small boats in the water and literally pull the big vessel along. It is also the name for a time when not much is happening… a period when one is ‘in the doldrums’.

Such a time comes in late winter when the snow is old and everyone says, “Oh, come on now… let’s have spring!” By the time you read this, we should be through that and things in nature should be starting to bloom. Back in the day we would be planning our trip back home to Michigan from Florida.

Marion and I always tried to make any trip an adventure. Anytime the wheels rolled for several days we were ‘on vacation’. We packed sandwiches and other treats for along the way. And we agreed the most fun we had doing that were the days we traveled in a Dodge Roadtrek. This was a complete little home on a Dodge Maxivan chassis.

It had everything including a bathroom and full-size bed across the back. During the daytime this could be converted to a dinette. We usually left the bed made up. That way if we were tired in the afternoon, we could pull in a rest area or service area and take a nap. We sometimes did that!

One time we were traveling through Pennsylvania on I-80… we had lunch in the parking lot of a service area. After that we pulled way back in a deserted part, drew all the curtains and climbed into bed for a siesta. We heard some activity before we drifted off to sleep. A couple of hours later when we got ready to leave, surprise! All around us were parked RVs with other travelers catching a few Zs.

That bed was barely adequate for a six footer. The Chief Accountant and I were both under that length, so usually no problem. One night we stayed in a campground on the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania. While we were asleep it turned cold and I was dreaming… walking across a bridge covered with ice and snow. I was kicking chunks of ice into the water. I awakened with my feet bare and pressed against the cold wall!

Sometimes we liked to travel at night, but we never felt lonely. That was back in the day of CB radios, and I could always talk to the truckers… which I did. Marion said, “Bud, you’re getting so you sound just like them on the radio!”

“Yes,” I replied, “and that’s why they will talk to me. I don’t sound like a nerd!” I knew in those days that if we had some real trouble, any one of a half-dozen big rigs would stop to help. Those were the big guys, many with festoons of lights all over the trailers. They hated most four wheelers and I think with reason. When you get on an interstate there’s a lot of dumb there with you… and they are almost all four wheelers! So if I sounded like one of them, I was part of that fraternity for just a little while.

I’ve written before about the fun I had talking to those 18-wheelers. And I’ll probably do so again in the future. It’s enough now for me to say I know a lot of them have lives that are in disarray. But almost all of them are big hearted. Several times they helped us when we most needed it.

One time we were driving from Hartford to Ann Arbor and I just filled the tank. I got some bad gas… probably had water in it. We were limping along on the edge of I-94 with my four-way flashers on. A trucker pulled up behind me and slowed way down. He asked me if I was having trouble. Said his name was “the Razorback,” driving for Ford out of the Rawsonville plant. He stuck with us all the way to an exit and saw that we got off safely.

We had several experiences like that, and I don’t know how many times they gave us directions to find perhaps a good place to eat. One time in Pennsylvania I asked a trucker about restaurants. He said, “We’re coming up on the Snowshoe Exit. Two good restaurants there. One on each side of the highway!”

“Which one is better?”

He thought a moment, then said, “They’re both good, but the one on the left side has prettier waitresses!”

I laughed, then said, “That doesn’t matter… I got my better half with me!”

He laughed too and said, “That’s no problem… if you’re on a diet, you can still look at the menu!” And I’m not sure, but I think maybe that time Marion suggested we try the other restaurant!

A friend of ours in Ann Arbor, a young neighbor lady, told us one time she was talking to a trucker. He said, “In many ways being on the road is a lonely life. If you see a trucker go by, and he gives you a blast on the air horns, he’s not going to stop and assault you. But he surely appreciates it then if you give him a little wiggle!”

It’s all part of the passing parade as we weave more golden threads into the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!

Red Cross Volunteer, Ella Jane Frances Ball Furman (wife of George), is pictured in a WWI Red Cross Nurse uniform. She was assigned to work in Detroit. In what volunteer activities have you engaged? Did you volunteer near your home or were you assigned to an area new to you? Was it a fulfilling experience? Please share your volunteering experiences with North Berrien Historical Museum, contact them at or 468-3330. Keep in mind the NBHS is always looking for volunteers. The museum is closed until further notice. From the photo collection at the North Berrien Historical Museum 300 Coloma Avenue, Coloma

Watervliet District Library News Facebook

The library’s Facebook programming schedule for the coming week will be: Trivia Tuesday, May 26: How well do you know… just about anything? This week’s topic: Wildflowers! They’re out, they’re blooming, how many do you know by name? Correct answers will be shared the following Tuesday. Celebrity Story Times, Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.: Each week a celebrity author reads a favorite children’s book online. On May 27, Sarah Silverman will read Fiona Roberton’s book, “A Tale of Two Beasts”. Friday Free Reads: Library director Sharon Crotser-Toy shares the latest news in online books not-to-be-missed, all available through OverDrive – noon on Fridays. Foodie Friday: “Saving Family Recipes”, an online instruction program created by the American Library Association will be shared through Facebook; lots of great ideas to preserve anyone’s heritage and appetite. Saturday Story Times, live! Zoom with Miss Kati! Contact the library to participate, beginning May 23 at 10 a.m. Check out a story hour post any time your schedule allows. Share your photos, opinions, thoughts and suggestions whenever you have a moment to relax. Please feel free to reach out to the library through Facebook, or email If you need to speak to the director, call the library at 463-6382 and follow the prompts. Michigan eLibrary Need research for school or work from home? Try, the state wide database resource. MEL includes a huge selection of articles, journals and ebooks for curious minds of all ages, and contains a link for tools to help kids and parents, under Learning From Home. These are available to all Michigan residents. Resources For information about the COVID-19 crisis, unemployment and business support during this time, please visit the Watervliet District Library website at and scroll down the home page. They are adding links regularly to help guide people throughout this challenging times.


100 years ago – 1920 Ten pupils will graduate from Coloma High School. Class Roll: Florence Drach, Irma Hazen, Scott Hartman, Harold C. Kilmark, Harry B. Leonard, Edna Newton, Madeline Paul, Hazel Peterson, Emily Shoup and Evelyn Scott. The thirtieth annual convention of the Berrien County Women’s Christian Temperance Union will convene at the Congregational Church. The Liberty Bond you bought helped finance the War. The best advice is to hold onto your bond until maturity. It is as safe and sound as the United States Government. 60 years ago – 1960 Harry Nye, prominent farmer, will address the Coloma township Republican club. His lecture is “The United States as Viewed by South Americans.” Mr. and Mrs. Neil Cottier return from a trip to the Kentucky Derby. Six well known farmers retire from Coloma Fruit Exchange board of directors: John Miller, Vern Warman, D. Vern Harris, Duane Carter, John Kniebes and Ferdinand Thar. A 1960 Falcon is the door prize to be given away by the Chamber of Commerce. This will be done during the dance at Crystal Palace. The car is on display in front of Central Garage. 30 years ago – 1990 Leslie Sanders, Lisa Trueblood and Laura Wessendorf have been notified they have won honor awards from Whirlpool Corporation. Police Chief Kenneth Unruh reports that all evidence from the fires that destroyed The Friendly Tavern and the Chicago Family Restaurant are being analyzed by the state police crime lab. Graduation ceremonies for North Berrien Adult Education students will be held. Jean Chandler will present diplomas to the Coloma students. The children of Coloma and Washington Elementary say “Thank You, We Love You Jim” to Sergeant Jim Hartman. His recent loss has impacted the children. Coloma Memorial Day Services: Parade begins with a salute at Baker Park and service at the Cemetery. Submitted by volunteer Sandi Musick Munchow at Coloma Public Library from the Coloma Courier newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Closed until further notice. Phone: 269-468-3431


100 years ago – 1920 A real estate deal that may effect radical changes in Hartford business circles occurred when the opera house block was sold by the owners to Orrin W. Kaye and his father, H.G. Kaye. Kaye has the Buick automobile agency for Hartford and contiguous territory. He has announced his intention of converting the lower part of the opera house block into a Buick salesroom and service station. The interior of the Olney National Bank is being remodeled to provide increase working room. A part of the north lobby has been eliminated. The north entrance will be closed and the entrance from the post office lobby will be used exclusively. 75 years ago – 1945 Names of 32 Hartford high school seniors were announced today by Superintendent Gordon Hawkins. Graduation week will open Sunday with baccalaureate services. Philharmonic Club was entertained last week at the home of Mrs. F.N. Williams. During the business meeting, the group decided to continue to support the music department of Percy Jones Hospital. “The Piano, Its Antecedents, and Developments,” written by Mrs. Leland Davis, was read by Mrs. Floyd Lammon. Edna Mae Williams presented several selections on the piano. 50 years ago – 1970 David and Phil Friday and their fruit harvesting machines are featured in an article in Nation’s Agriculture Magazine for June. The story describes how David Friday began developing tools and his own crops and today he and his son, Phil, and a crew of 20 men are manufacturing a variety of fruit harvesting equipment in the Friday Tractor Co. plant south of Hartford. The Hartford Masonic Lodge burned the mortgage on their temple Saturday night as the final payment was made. The building, which was formerly the Federated church, was purchased in 1962. Taking part in the burning ceremony are Norb Nelsen, Willard Saver, Mrs. James Keech, Glenn Geisler and Arthur Bench. Work is underway on the first building at the new Van Buren youth fairgrounds between Lawrence and Hartford. The 60 by 152-foot building will be used to house exhibits and offices for the fair. It is a pole type structure and is the first of a number of buildings planned for the old county farm site on Red Arrow highway. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring. Hours: Mon, Tue & Wed, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Phone: 269-621-3408


90 years ago – 1930 The never say die spirit of the Watervliet Metros again prevail at the encounter with Benton Harbor American Legion when they came from behind to turn an appearing defeat into a 7 – 6 win in 11 innings. Miss Agnus Sweeney is a member of the 1930 graduating class of Michigan School for the Blind, Lansing. Miss Sweeney takes part in the June 11 program and plays in a piano quartet. She also participates in the “Class Prophesy” and has attended the institution since she was a little girl. Rev. and Mrs. G.R. Parker were treated to a pleasant surprise at the Congregational Church on June 2. Members and friends of the church celebrated their 20th Anniversary. Following a delicious potluck supper, F.W. Emerson officiated as toastmaster. 60 years ago – 1960 The Watervliet senior class returned from their five day trip to Washington D.C. This year’s seniors are a group the entire school district can point to with pride. They have outranked every previous graduating class in scholastic honor, scholarship, activities, college plans – everything but numbers. Their high scholastic standing and small number (46), combined to give the twelve students who rated in the upper 25% of the class, an extremely high grade point average, but made it a little rough on the rest of the seniors, many of whom were honor students. Watervliet Blue Sox are leading the Northern Indiana League in a tie for first place, following a 17-inning marathon, when they knocked off the Elkhart Shamrocks 9 – 6. Eddie Martin will participate in the Van Buren Folk Dancers program at the Deer Forest Animal Park, the afternoon of Memorial Day, 1960. 30 years ago – 1990 Named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement during the 1990 winter semester at Lake Michigan College from Watervliet: Brad Allen Banasik, Tawnya S. Manning, Julie Ann Schuck, Duane Spitale, Jeri L. Still and Joyce F. Thornburg. Manning and Thornburg had straight “A’s”. Amy Zachary has been chosen as Watervliet’s “Student of the Week” for May 22, 1990. Amy is a first grader at South Elementary School. She likes creative writing, art and reading. She is kind and helpful with her classmates and enjoys camping with her family. An exhibit of prints, drawings and watercolors from the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is currently on display at the Watervliet District Library. Entitled “The Artist as Naturalist”, the exhibit contains a selection of works that reflect various artistic approaches to the world of nature. A range of techniques and media are employed by the artists in expressing their ideas. Submitted by Sally Q. Gonzalez from files at Watervliet District Library of the Watervliet Record newspapers donated by the Tri-City Record. Hours: Mon & Wed, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tue, Thu & Fri, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Phone: 269-463-6382


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